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If Marc-Andre Fleury is better than Ilya Bryzgalov, why does Bryzgalov have better career stats despite playing on an inferior team for most of his career?
From Bryzgalov's first season as a starter (2007-08) through this current year, he has a .916 save percentage and a 2.53 goals-against average.
In that time frame, the teams he's played on have averaged 43 wins per season.
From Fleury's first season as a starter (2005-06) through this current year, he has a .910 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average.
In that time frame, the Penguins averaged 44 wins per season. This stat is a bit skewed, since the Penguins won just 22 games that first year. Since then, the Penguins averaged 47 wins per season.
Basically, Bryzgalov has played better and totaled better statistics despite playing for hockey teams that on average, aren't as good.
What about the playoffs?
Brygalov outperformed former Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastian Giguere in Anaheim during the 2006 playoffs, yet critics hound him for his playoff performance...
And that goes back to this two playoff seasons in Phoenix.
Bryzgalov faced an average of 36 shots with a much inferior Coyotes team that played against two Detroit Red Wings teams who were far more potent of an offensive opponent than anyone Pittsburgh played over those two years.
If Bryzgalov is a bad playoff goalie, why is his save percentage in that time frame still better than Fleury's over the past two postseasons even though Fleury was with a better team?
Look at 2010 alone; Pittsburgh played Ottawa and Montreal, both scored less goals in that regular season than Detroit, who Phoenix played, yet Bryzgalov stopped a higher percentage of shots than Fleury that season.
What about now?
Additionally, Bryzgalov entered both of the past two playoffs after playing in 69 (2010) and 68 (2011) regular-season games.
This year, he enters not only after a lighter workload of 59 games, but on the edge of one of the best second half of the season any goaltender had.
According to Hockey-Reference.com, after the All-Star Game, Bryzgalov won 15 of 25 games played, had a .929 save percentage, 1.84 goals-against average and five shutouts.
He was named the NHL's Player of the Month in March.
In comparison, leading Vezina Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist won 17 of 26 games played, had a .917 save percentage, 2.10 goals-against average and three shutouts.
Fleury is not even close to Bryzgalov with regards to how much these goaltenders have shown an ability to shutdown their opponents heading towards hockey's most important months of the season.